Meanwhile, back at the castle, Zahra came and went as she pleased. While the guards and servants were directed to keep an eye on her, she had an adequate amount of freedom, for the time being.
It was a beautiful afternoon when Zahra approached the throneroom. She was well aware of the fact that nobody except the royal family, the royal family's advisers, and Adrian himself were allowed to enter the throneroom without a summons, but Zahra didn't care. She needed to speak with the prince.
Shoving open the doors, Zahra marched to the center of the throneroom and cleared her throat loudly.
A servant girl who was clearly trying to impress the prince with her coquettish giggling and form-flattering outfit glanced over at Zahra in disgust. The prince, however, looked relieved. "There you are," he said, and Zahra realized he was trying to make the girl think he had an appointment.
Scowling, the servant left the room.
"Sara, I cannot thank you enough. That girl had it in her mind she was going to impress me somehow, but it was all I could do not to defenestrate her."
Zahra raised her eyebrows. "Defenestrate, eh? What, pray tell, does that mean?"
"Defenestration is the act of throwing something - or someone - out a window."
The mind picture that presented itself in Zahra's mind at the prince's words was too funny to bear in silence. Laughing in spite of her decision to keep from being too friendly with the prince, Zahra shook her head. "I somehow doubt you'd ever do that," she said.
"Oh, really? And why is that?"
"Come on, Alexander. You know as well as I do that you'd never harm a woman." And then, in order to add a bite to her all-too-revealing words, Zahra continued on. She stepped close to the prince so that they were face-to-face. "You'd never want to ruin your chances of finding some hapless creature to romance, now, would you?" Somehow, the words weren't as satisfying as Zahra had thought they would be.
Alexander didn't cut Zahra down, despite her cold words. Instead, he only repeated himself. "Oh, really? And why is that?" This time, however, his tone was harder.
Zahra remained silent.
"Well, when Adrian returns, you can tell him I didn't once endanger you," Alexander continued.
"I'm not so sure, Alexander. Listen, I'm sorry. I know that what I said was bitter. But I still cannot move past the fact that you would degrade me so much as to ask me to be your mistress. You must acknowledge the fact that I have a right to be angry with you."
"I never said you didn't." Alexander raised his head and met Zahra's eyes. "Perhaps I would be infuriated, too, if I were in your shoes. But I'm not used to being refused, Sara."